Parents and children should also make sure that all necessary legal documents—wills, trusts, health care proxies, powers of attorney—are in place and up-to-date, Driscoll said. Attorneys who specialize in elder law can help ensure the dizzying number of financial and legal matters are smoothly coordinated.
If adult children want or need to contribute financially to their parents’ care, long-term-care insurance can be a good option, Driscoll said. Such coverage can prevent nursing home or assisted living bills from quickly swallowing all of a parent’s assets, he said.
“It’s a much cheaper way to help them than trying to cover the cost of the care itself,’’ he said.
Driscoll speaks from personal experience: He and his siblings paid for a portion of their own mother’s long-term-care insurance, which allowed her to remain financially secure until her death two years ago, he said.
Long-term-care insurance, however, has its critics. Premiums are often quite high, making it less likely that the investment will ultimately save money, Lane said. “I see people struggling with it,’’ she said. “Often times people believe that that’s the panacea—it’s not.’’
Despite its difficulties, working out a plan for your parents’ care can bring peace of mind.
Joanne Parhiala acknowledged feeling wistful at times for the retirement she once planned. A psychiatric nurse, she expects to work night and weekend shifts to make time in the week for her father and brother.
In the end, though, she is glad she and her husband, an electrical engineer, are able to support her family. Both are planning to work for about 14 more years and they expect to have paid off their mortgage by then, freeing up more money for other expenses. Throughout the years, they have contributed to their retirement plans and participated in pension programs, giving them a pool of savings from which to draw.
Perhaps the most important decision was to act while Joanne Parhiala’s father, 77, is still healthy. The transition, she said, will be easier for everyone this way. “This is a big change for us, but we’re not looking at it as a negative,’’ she said. “It’s just a progression and a change in life.’’
Sarah Shemkus can be reached at email@example.com.